Published: August 25th 2009August 24th 2009
Rupal and I really loved Cusco. It was a welcome change from Lima, although much much colder. It is also quite high up so the altitude does require some getting used to. It is also quite hilly, so by the time you walk from your hostel to the Plaza, you are quite out of breath.
Cusco is the ancient Inca capital and a lot of the new buildings are built on the original inca settlements. The Inca stonework can be seen in many places still. It is truly beautiful, lots of museums (I use the term loosely, an amalgamation of artefacts does not make a building a museum) and churches. The other thing we noticed is that the people in Cuzco definitely looked more indigenous. A lot of them were actually quite shorter than me, which made me feel like a giant looking down on people. Cusco has some really great restaurants as well, with not only really good Andean food but also really good pizzas. The Plaza de Armas (which seems de rigueur in all Latin American cities) is very picturesque, although you can acosted by hordes of hawkers trying to sell "gorras, bufandas, paintings, etc...", especially when eating
alfresco. It does get quite tiring after some time, indeed when they keep asking you where you are from ("India miss?). Grrr. Rupal and I went to Paddy's one evening, which calls itself "the highest Irish owned pub in the world", and it was a somewhat of a relief to escape from it all.
The Coricancha or Temple of the Sun is well worth the 10 soles or so it costs to get in. As all Inca temples and sacred places, it is now a Catholic church. But you can still see the Inca architecture and the remains of the water system. It is said that the temple was covered in gold before the arrival of the Spaniards. The ingenuity of the Incas is amazing. Somehow, they succeeded in making huge temples and cities, some of them in inaccessible places, with huge stones that were cut so perfectly that they would just slot into one another.
Another interesting fact is that the word Inca is a misnomer. The race of people that are called "Incas" should really be called Tawantinsuyu. "Inca" means "ruler". When the Spaniards arrived, they decided to called the race "Inca" - I believe that
it rolled off the tongue better! I have always been fascinated by Inca history, ever since as a child I saw "Les mysterieuses cites d'or" (City of gold)
Cusco was also the perfect starting point for exploring a lot of Peru and we used it as a base to explore many of the key locations. Next stop - Machu Picchu - Take One.
There are more photos below